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The power of immigration

Yesterday, Fred Wilson posted about Immigration Reform.  I agree with him on the need for immigration reform and am glad that he's supporting Sen. Chuck Schumer in his efforts to push this through Congress.

Our country's greatest strength is its ability to take people from all backgrounds and to unite them with a common set of values that cuts across cultures.  Universal values like freedom, democracy, the presumption of innocence, and opportunity are magnets to people all across the world.  When we compromise these, even in the name of our security, we actually lower our opportunity and increase our risk.

There are been several disturbing trends in immigration over the past decade.  First of all, many people in the country mistake followers of Islam for terrorists.  Or, even followers of other religions (like Sikhs).  This creates a lot of ill will toward citizens and immigrants who don't happen to be Judeo-Christians.  Shame on us -- we have to remain open to people of all backgrounds who embrace our American values.  Moving away from that just reinforces the terrorists' message.

Also, the large number of Hispanic illegal immigrants has equated immigration reform with opening our borders to a large wave of Hispanic immigrants.  I'm not in favor of opening the borders to anyone who wants to come in.  But, I do think that we should always welcome hard-working people who want to live by our values.

We do need security at the border to ensure that people only come in through legal means.  But, we have to recognize that we have millions and millions of people who have been here for a long time that took advantage of our porous security and lack of policing employers.  If they couldn't get a job, illegal immigrants wouldn't come here.  Only a very small number of them come here with the intent of committing crimes, so we shouldn't criminalize the rest.

We're about to welcome into our home two family friends from Kyrgyzstan who are coming to the US until things stabilize in their home.  When you hear how immigrants and visitors view the US, you realize that we shouldn't take for granted how powerful our long-term values are.  And, we have to guard against compromising them and cutting off our greatest strength -- being the magnet for the world's best and brightest and integrating their diverse thinking into high-energy inventiveness.

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